Friday, February 12, 2010

Restricted Area

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

Have you ever noticed the 'restricted areas' within the christian faith?  In the Harry Potter books his school library had what they called the 'restricted area'.  It was the section where the bad magic was referenced in the books, and other unsavory parts of that world were held that you were not to go near.  You were only allowed to go there when you had permission, and only for the STRICTEST of reasons.  YES I read those books while I was home on bed rest after an operation, and needed some fantasy entertainment as I laid there bored out of my skull!  I needed something MINDLESS!  (giggles)

In the books the major EVIL character most referred to as 'you know who', because they didn't even wish to mention his name.  He represented everything and evil, ugly and bad about life.  People avoided even speaking about him at all, and as sure you might have guessed Harry Potter did have to deal with Voldemort (you know who) in every book.  Harry would mention Voldemort's name, and everyone would freak out and say, 'DON'T SAY THAT NAME!"  Voldemort was part of their 'restricted section' within their world.

So what is within the 'restricted section' within the bible?  Its not so much you can't read it, but to me at times you can't really dive into these areas with questions.

I want to use 1 Peter 3-7 as an example today.

1 Peter 3:1-6 ISV  In a similar way, you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands so that, even if some of them refuse to obey the word, they may be won over without a word through your conduct as wives  (2)  when they see your pure and reverent lives.  (3)  Your beauty should not be an external one, consisting of braided hair or the wearing of gold ornaments and dresses.  (4)  Instead, it should be the inner disposition of the heart, consisting in the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great value in the sight of God.  (5)  After all, this is how holy women who set their hope on God used to make themselves beautiful in the past. They submitted themselves to their husbands,  (6)  just as Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters by doing good and by not letting anything terrify you.

I want to say something first about this verse.  I have seen this happen.  A wife that was respectful, and honoring to her husband - even thought he was disobedient to the word.  Her behavior did contribute to him being won over, and learning to grow as a Godly man.

It makes sense to me - not as a wifely duty type of thing okay?  When people give testimonies at times they will speak of a person in their life - and it was that person beam of love that made them turn and said 'I want SOME OF THAT!"  The love of Christ just oozed from them, and that made them wish to learn more - and maybe OOZ themselves!  How many times have we heard of others use another as example that was an important towards their journey to learn to love and learn more about our Lord?  To me the verse is more cementing something we already know - our witness will help others come to the Lord.  Be careful with that witness so you honor God.  To me its a repeating theme!

ANYWAY - When I was young I remember reading this verse as I was struggling within my marriage per others recommendation after I mentioned my struggle with emotional abuse.  I will be honest, and say these people I went to were not very nice about my confusion.  They were rather hurtful, and I do realize that the word states that you need to worry about your walk first.  That makes perfect sense to me, because if you look at human nature?  It tends to work better when we truly LOOK to ourselves first.  To me in alot of ways the bible speaks common sense when it comes to how God made us as humans.  It tends to be humans that add to the word, and confuse everyone!

Anyway, I read the bible verse and one word STOOD out to me at the time.  They were placing this verse at my feet with almost a 'lifetime guarantee' attached.  If you would do this he will turn around.  That is not what the verse states.  There is 'may' be won without a word.  The 'may' part doesn't guarantee what they claimed it did.  So in my innocence and naive nature - thinking they would take it as the spirit as it was asked - I mentioned that the verse had 'may'.  When do you know when this 'may not' be working?

Instead of any type of grace, and even meeting me half way?  I was given the speeches that are vomited all over the world.  I didn't have enough faith, and I worry to much about everyone else.  I'm just looking for the easy way out, etc.

I hit one those areas that the church refuses to go near for the most part.  Its a 'restricted' area.  They don't have the canned response like they do for so many other things.  I suppose they divert because that restricted area may include separation, divorce, martial conflict.  You don't talk about such things - you only talk about how to avoid it!

I remember in church one Sunday our Pastor was speaking about a missionary our church supports.  This country has a really hard life overall, and compared to us?  We have it good!  This missionary plants churches all over his country, and the man is awesome at this gift!  My pastor asked him HOW do you do this?  His answer was quite telling to me.  He said we in America are very good at learning the word.  We tend to do surface study though.  In his church they take small portions of the word, and they have huge studies they must pass before moving on to the rest.  Not only that but they must learn to LIVE that portion of the word, before they are handed their next section.  He said it is not an easy study, and at times it will take a month or so before you are allowed to move on.  They want to be sure that you have absorbed as much as possible - and not just memorized the verse - and maybe the other translations, background, history, etc.

Life is hard there, and they tend NOT to use the bible as a hammer.  They use it as a source of encouragement, love and hope.  They use it as a tool to live life as they struggle, and find ways of keeping that focus on God.  I'm sure most in church would look to these people as ignorant little village people that finally found God as they look off their seminary front porch.  To me it sounds this man has a huge point!  Our arrogance at times about how much we know about the bible, and how we can rattle verses off doesn't really show all that much.

Lets look at the response I got when I questioned the 'may' portion in I Peter 3!  They were good at rattling off my 'wife' portion, but were lost as to how to address my concern.  If they were that 'good' there would have been additional scripture that they could hand me, or they would have show some concern and discernment in the approach towards me.  Instead they made me feel awful about my honest question.  They refused to even venture into the restricted area of my pain, and that to me shows they may be able to recite bible verses - but that's it!

We tend to use tactics like diversion instead of TRULY getting into the meat and potatoes.  The bible speaks plenty about those that will never turn to God.  It speaks of those that use a false face within the church.  YOu can speak of such things, but if you notice its very removed for the most part or generalized.  Instead of looking closely at those things, and finding ways of working with that reality that God as placed out there?  We tend to use speeches such as God MAY turn them around, and you don't know WHEN that will happen - keep your faith in check!  In other words hold on for dear life, and don't let go!  Statements dripping with manipulation like, 'I'm glad GOD didn't give up on ME like you are GIVING up on your SPOUSE!'  Its okay to talk about the 'world' and martial abuse, but once inside the church it clearly is a restricted area.

I sincerely do believe there is a time in life in which you need to walk away, and allow God to take the wheel fulltime.  Get OUT of the path, and allow people just to fall into the pit.  They must then make their own decision if they will take God's hand, and allow him to dust them off.  There are alot of us that make a decision to be spiritually lazy,and decide the muck is easier than the word they see God asking us to live by.  We are good at placing those things into general terms, but when it gets to up close and personal?  Restricted due to personal discomfort.

We are asked (by the church) as humans and spouses to step in and HELP until it kills us - and yet at times when innocent questions are asked like I mentioned?  You are handed nothing.  God will pull this person from the muck, and he doesn't need our help all the time.  Our help may come later once they are broken enough, repented enough, and truly have that flame inside of them that wishes to walk the right path.

They tell us in church that you can't change your spouse!  We hear often don't we?  Yet they use that 1 Peter 3:2 verse as if we can!  The speak out of both sides of their mouth, and YES I do believe there comes a time in which you need to move out of the way and let GOD do his thing alone.  There are to many double sided  swords they use within the church, and that is why it may not work as well they think it does.  You see you can't use the verse to show how you can CHANGE someone, and then your next sermon be on how you can't change your spouse.  It raises confusion, and when you ask questions about that confusion?  You can't use the 'lack of faith' speeches to those that are lost, and expect them to grasp God's meaning.

We truly at times are pitiful when it comes to God word aren't we at times?  At times I feel we have lost most of our grace towards others.  We get into church and just feel we shouldn't have to because 'they should know better'.  They restrict what God has given to us, and asks for others to share as well.  I think once the fear over the restricted areas is lifted we will make huge leaps forward.  It won't be easy, and it may not be pretty.  There will still be divorce, separation in life.  When people are validated about their confusion, hurt and conflict they tend to do much better.  Its when they run into the restricted area, and others can't speak of their reality do we do more harm.

Its like talking about Voldemort in Harry Potter's world - DON'T say that NAME! Don't even SPEAK OF HIM!  We have to speak of it, face it, and deal with it!  We can't NOT go near subjects like emotional abuse, and except with scripture like 1 Peter 3:1-6.  We have to see the 'may', and not restrict reality for so many people.  That verse doesn't offer protection from abuse all the time, and we need to take the 'abuse' out of restricted area!

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Mara Reid on 3:51 PM said...

Another Good one, Hannah.

I know I heard the testimony of a woman who was married to an abusive alcoholic.

It was told second hand by a preacher who did an awesome job saying, "Now, I do not recommend what this woman did. But she said she felt God tell her to stay and and that God would turn the guy around."

Long and short, that's what happened.

But the difference between her story and thousands of other women being told by the church (Not GOD) to stay and bear the abuse was that this woman had a word from the Lord.

I rarely tell this story because stupid people miss the part about the women And you are right. The man MAY be won over. It's not a sure thing.

And yet, I've met men who, when you tell them that a woman needs to get out, they start sqwaking about how I don't value that man's eternal salvation. And I'm thinking, 'yeah and YOU don't value women... AT ALL. You think they should just be punched around for years on end with not vacation because some lunk head MIGHT get saved. I'm sure God has better ways to reach those idiots than to create women to be punching bags for them.'

Anyway, so much for my little soap box.

But good article about what doesn't want to deal with.

Hannah on 4:39 PM said...

I have to wonder what they think of Abigail and Nabel. Hmmm. She didn't show her chaste behavior in the proper fashion? He is a good example of 'may not'!

It seems the men you speak about can't be all that worried about his 'eternal salvation' if they don't the time to confront the sinner, and help him turn from his ways. Its up to the individual to make that choice, but that is not to say others can't influence them. I mean - they can as well!

Your soapbox is legit it most people's eyes Mara. When people stop ignoring sin, and help families help the ones that needed it? They wouldn't have to deal with either of our soapboxes! I guess they didn't stop to think of that fact as well. If they search the bible? THAT is in there as well! Imagine that.

JaneDoeThreads on 2:19 PM said...

For you, on Valentine's



Anonymous said...

I see nothing in the Bible that protects children from neglectful abusive parents.. Wives are supposed to stay in a marriage unless there is adultery but what about the effect that miserable marriage has on children and what kind of an example is this anyway? Emotional abuse should be a criminal act.

Hannah on 8:24 PM said...

I agree it should be criminal. There are plenty of scripture on the treatment of children, but again people tend over look it if it mean confronting things.

I personally don't believe 'adultery' is the only reason for leaving. God gave us common sense to know when its time, and the Holy Spirit will lead you if you listen. To often people wish to play the Holy Spirit for others instead of allow the Spirit to do their own role.

Children are effected by bad relationships - no doubt. I wrote an article to John Piper asking children to write to him, and tell them of their experiences. He can't claim ignorance then.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article, Hannah.

I'd like to make 2 comments. Firstly, domestic violence in many states where I live includes psychological abuse. So the police can take action even if there is no physical violence. Legally this is the case, but practically arrests may not happen very much.

Secondly, it is interesting you offered for John Piper to understand the experiences of children. I did the same to a psychologist my husband was seeing. He did not think that his abuse was enough reason to leave the relationship because there were children involved. So I got a daughter to write to him (the others declined the offer because they thought the exposure was too risky). While he thanked me for the extra insight, he still didn't seem to get how traumatic it was for the children and he proposed a case management of talking to my husband about the perspective of the children in the coming months. Well we couldn't wait that long. We left a few weeks after. If only he could see why.

Hannah on 8:45 AM said...

Anonymous - its strange to me that people can 'acknowledge' emotional abuse, verbal abuse, but then turn around and can't seem to connect the dots.

The psychologist you spoke to? You would think he had loads of patients he had spoke to that were clearly damaged by the messages they received growing up. It shows his inability - and competency in his profession with his actions. Your child took a risk, and he basically wanted to place that child's head on a platter. His motive to keep the family together seemed more important than anything. Yet, he HAS to have patients he speaks to that I'm sure he wished did not (family stay together) - for reasons your child wrote about. I'm sorry he placed your family in that position, but I'm glad you found a way out!

I can see WHY police don't arrest on only the grounds of psychological abuse most of the time, but I'm sure they would like to! How do they prove this with evidence? They must feel at times like they are placed between a rock and hard place.

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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